I picked this up at the airport a couple of years ago. At that time, I was a complete Irvine Welsh virgin – had never read one of his books before, or even seen Trainspotting (hard to believe?).
What’s It About?
Bedroom Secrets Of The Master Chefs centres around the rivalry between Edinburgh Environmental Health Officer Danny Skinner and Brian Kibby, a newcomer to Skinner’s department to whom Danny takes and instant irrational dislike.
Danny’s a full-on shit: womaniser, heavy drinker, drug taker, thinks Saturday night’s definitely alright for fighting (he’s virtually a professional football hooligan). All this makes for some pretty spectacular hangovers…
…which is where Kibby comes in. Somehow, in his complete hatred of the clean-cut mammy’s boy, Skinner manages to curse Brian Kibby – and somehow manages to curse Kibby with all his hangovers! Essentially, Skinner can party as hard as he likes and Kibby receives the hangover.
Bedroom Secrets is littered with some very humorous set pieces, set in Welsh’s gritty but affectionate Edinburgh. Interestingly, Skinner’s and Kibby’s lives are linked in more ways than they both know, and the tension between the two boils over into open resentment as the novel reaches its climax.
Irvine Welsh manages to create some interesting, three-dimensional characters in Bedroom Secrets, from the protagonists Skinner and Kibby to the bit players like Skinner’s mother and his colleagues Shannon McDowall and slimy Bob Foy.
Skinner himself is a masterpiece of nastiness, delighting in Kibby’s downfall and generally getting up to no good. There’s a scene where he seeks assistance from an old clairvoyant and ends up sleeping with her in ‘payment’. Truly disgusting!
I liked Neil McAllister‘s review of Bedroom Secrets – he picked up on a good point, that the ‘curse’ on Kibby is like a perverse Dorian Grey enchantment. Neil’s review is worth a read if you’re interested.